Issue 37 - 11/10/20


  • Week in Review (You Know the One)
  • Rating the Middle-Aged Men Who Try to Add Me on Social Media pt. 2

  • Breaking Dawn, Finally
  • Dearest Darling Andrew pt. 2
  • Nextdoor Clippings
  • Alex Reviews: Living in Montana
  • The Basement You Never Knew You Had (Lessons in Room Décor and Upkeep)
  • Office Chart

Week in Review (You Know the One)

Bitch Juice

Jenna Hay

It is difficult for me to aptly express the emotions I experienced during the election week. I'm unsure if expressing my feelings is even worthwhile, knowing that as a white female, the extent of the fear I felt and the relief I'm feeling now likely pales in comparison to my friends who have much more to be fearful of and are subsequently more relieved. However, I'm relieved for my LGBTQ+ community, I'm relieved for my close friends who still experience racism, and I'm relieved for women who want autonomy in their own bodies.

I can solemnly confirm that throughout this election, my perspective has hardened. What I've realized, and maybe too late, is that the "side" we pick is determined not by what we support, but by what we fear most. This is true even for me. I voted as I did because I fear for the integrity of our protected lands, I fear for the animals who's habitats are involuntarily becoming intertwined with ours, I fear for the last few wild rivers that are threatening to be dammed, and I fear for our climate and how we're milking the Earth for every resource it holds.

Unfortunately, the driving force of this election seemed to be fear over platform. Callousness vs. empathy. Violence vs. peace. I think many people, my parents included, voted as they did because they fear destitution, they fear a lack of control, they fear being overtaken by things they don't understand, they fear being taken advantage of. Fear is a powerful emotion.

Despite the fear and the chaos, I think every person must clearly answer for themselves the question, "What will I stand for? And what will I stop at nothing to fight against?" There will always be an opposing agenda, and those who drive it do not rest. When you are not actively fighting for what you believe in, someone else is fighting against it. And for every step forward we fail to take, the other side will be there to gain ground on you.

So, I guess what I've learned is that those who are relentless win, those who operate with empathy win, those who strive to have good character win. Fear that manifests into love wins. And while I know we as a people have a long road ahead of us until we are healed, that fact gives me hope. 

Hot Election Take

Marina Martinez

Election week was hell. November 5th? Beautiful, magical, a combination of our panic and everything I love/hate about the internet, the best Guy Fawkes Day ever. The rest of it? Nightmare City. Just think about the song paradise city, it was the opposite of that.

I took a half-day on Friday because I literally couldn't focus on anything anymore besides the electoral vote map. I emailed my supervisor to tell him and he told me to 'enjoy my weekend'. I laughed. How many people were able to function this week when the line between democracy and outright fascism was razor thin?? Even now, He still hasn't conceded. They're still calling for only the 'legal' votes to be counted, and we're all just assuming that the Cheeto in Chief is going to literally need to be dragged from office in January. This week was the culmination of four years of fear and despair and hopelessness because, somehow, IT WAS STILL SO CLOSE. Nearly half the country still supported everything that is wrong with our country. My parents voted for this. But more people voted for sanity and progress, and that gives me enough hope to also think I'm not an idiot for being so hopeful.

A Few Thots on the Election

Alex Speed

So I live in a pretty small town in Montana, a state that has gone red every election other than 1992 because, let's face it, who could resist the weird charm and saxophone abilities of Bill Clinton promising lower taxes for the middle class and also the whole Ross Perot thing which - big yikes, but hey one time I had to have emergency surgery and my surgeon was Ross Perot's son in law so, pretty cool. The thing about small-town Montana is that even though my county went blue (hell yeah) there was a very vocal group of people who honest to God believe we (the dirty liberals) stole this election through voter fraud and mind control and other fun stuff that if we knew how to do would we really be pushing for Joe Biden to narrowly win the electoral college while losing ground in the senate and the house?

Steinbeck has this quote that really shapes how I feel about people and the world:

"Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids."

If you've never read East Of Eden I super recommend it.

Accepting something that is uncomfortable is incredibly difficult. So difficult that the very complex computers that runs our own independent shows craft these fun and compelling stories that serve the purpose of subverting a more painful and inconvenient reality.

Election Thoughts

Sam Strohmeyer

Well. Where exactly do we go from here? Trump being out of office is a relief. I really wasn't sure that was going to happen. The pandemic has taught me to only think a few months ahead at a time, so, what does the transition to a Biden administration look like when Trump, his cronies, and his fans refuse to acknowledge his loss? How much will the GOP assholes in the senate influence him? What will the first few months of a conservative majority SCOTUS bring? What about the extremists that Trump encouraged? What will they do? It feels like this election marks the end of a dark chapter but I have no idea what we're in for now. I'm a little hopeful and a lot wary.

Week in Review

Matt Spradling

Fun week, huh? I think I've stopped bolting upright in bed slick with fever-dream sweat and gutturally crying JOE multiple times a night, but I still have about 5 pairs of 9-digit numbers seared into my frontal lobe, and I don't think that's even the part of the brain that's supposed to traffic in numbers. C'est la vie.

I had a whole thing planned for this. I stayed up late a couple nights, laboring under the dual yokes of exhaustion and alcohol, resulting in, ultimately, a lot of nonsense. I had too many points to make. My brain was getting pulled violently in more directions than compasses display. I wrote a lot of dramatic things, because it felt dramatic. Parts read like the review of a soccer match. Parts read like a grocery list of grievances and crimes from the neighborhood law store. It was a lot.

And honestly, while I won't make anyone sit through it, I guess that's a pretty apt representation of the past week. No one I've talked to since really seems to know how to process it all, or how they're feeling other than tired, or hopefully relieved. No one I talked to particularly wanted to write about it. Are we just moving on? It would certainly be nice to drop all this for a little while.

What do you do after someone tries - and thankfully only partially succeeds at - burning your house down? Sure, you (barely) managed to win the legal battle and get them convicted, but then there's all the people, your neighbors, who just stood around watching them doing it. Some even cheered him on. That's fucking weird. Do you just go back to patching your house up and hoping things will return to normal if you act normal? Or do you go on some vindictive mission to uproot whatever strange, sordid conspiracy was taking place, possibly ensuring your house is fully secured once again but also possibly fanning the flames of conflict?

All of this is, of course, about Liverpool vs Manchester City this weekend. What a red and blue slog.

I completely forget who it was at this point, because it feels like a month ago - maybe Colbert or someone - that said watching Florida turn very red very quickly, and watching Tuesday unfold like it did, was the first time that a Trump presidency made sense; before, you could chalk it up as something of a fluke in time, and his supporters as being a very vocal minority, and all of that, but for the last four years, especially the last seven months, to happen, and then see even more people turn up to vote for that, that's when illusions fade away and you know it isn't just going to go away on its own with time and a little tidying up (although it's looking like the count is going to end up at 306 to 232, which is almost decent margins).

The rhetoric coming from both the president-elect and public figures like Dave Chappelle on SNL, for whatever that show's still worth, is focusing on empathy, forgiveness, and deference in victory. First of all, hearing a president doing anything other than spewing vitriol is extremely refreshing, I absolutely admit that. And part of what's been hard with the last four years is that I think what our public leaders say really does matter. It doesn't matter if it's just meant to be symbolic. So it doesn't matter if it seems like empty symbolism now - it matters that a president just got elected and provided a speech about peace rather than war. That matters, and I think that's what I've been wanting all along.

Exit polls showed 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Christians, you owe it to your community to be a voice of moderation and reason in your church. You're failing. Conservatives, you can make shit up about taxes if you want, but you at least owe it to your community to speak up against the poisoning of democracy being attempted by the party that currently represents conservatism, even if only ostensibly. You're failing. 

The idea that Trump support exists because the alternatives offered by democrats aren't good enough has always been horseshit. Grown adults should not be allowed to get away with that line of reasoning.

It sucks not getting a clean break or finality or closure. It's not over until he concedes, and until he concedes every one of his supporters will continue believing in conspiracy theories and be prepared to undermine democracy in any way possible. As I'm writing this Mike Pompeo is on national TV talking about there being a smooth transition into a second term. Fuck em all  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Rating the Middle-Aged Men Who Try to Add Me on Social Media, pt. 2

Chief Love Correspondent Sam Strohmeyer

Mark had me at "hello friends I'm new here and I'm to meet new friends..." He lost me when I found the graphic images of war injuries he posted.


Alright, right off the bat, we have to talk about the name. Why are all these scammers choosing... I mean, why are all these legitimate, wealthy, American men walking around god's green earth with two first names? Bonus points for the butterfly emoji.


What I'm looking for in an instagram follower is someone with connections and no one is more connected than Campton because he works "under the (UN) United Nation."


ARDENT TONY? ARDENT TONY? Are you kidding me?! The moment I saw his friend request I turned on some Lana Del Rey, poured myself a fifth of wild turkey, and began planning my new life with this perfect man. It's gonna be steamy. It's gonna be dramatic. And it's gonna be chock-full of stacks of money. I know this because he has so kindly provided a picture. *swoon*


I like Jerry because I appreciate his long sentences with no punctuation style I think it is fun and unique but I am unfortunately going to have to turn him down because I am not willing to travel to Baton Rouge and also I have never given him any indication I am looking for a sugar daddy and if I have I am so sorry Matt


No comment.



We have our first female request! Jennifer, I'm not able to fund more you at this time but I respect the hustle. Good luck!

not a man/10

Parting thoughts:

Breaking Dawn, Finally

Chief Editing Correspondent Marina Martinez

First off, thank you for putting up with four weeks of Twilight-adjacent content from me. I mean, you probably skipped it to read what everybody else wrote, but you at least read the titles, and that definitely counts.

While writing these, I realized something very important - they are not good books. The concept is AMAZING, but she could've stopped at Twilight, or maybe even New Moon if she needed more money. I've already rewritten Eclipse for you (you're welcome), and rather than rehash the 'canon' version of Breaking Dawn, I'm just going to continue my rewrite of the end of the series. I've been assured by fellow Twilight aficionados that my version is better, anyway. You can always watch the movie and be horrified and also grateful that you aren't seeing the creepy robotic baby. (spoilers)

Okay. Let's end this.

Breaking Dawn

The final book is usually the point where you wrap up loose plot points, but strangely, there's really only one in this version of Breaking Dawn - the Volturi. They will kill Bella (and the Cullens) unless Bella becomes a vampire.

At the end of the last book, Bella and the rest of Buffy's Angels (BA) successfully fended off an attack from a whole vampire army and fooled the vampire cops into leaving them alone, for the time being. This was an especially incredible victory (even though it was, like, stupid easy for them) because the army was made up almost entirely of 'newborn' vampires, who are stronger than normal vampires because they still have their own human blood in them (ew??). Bella and her friends all agree that friendship is witchcraft, but that won't really take care of the imminent Volturi threat. Emmett, that loveable himbo, suggests that they just fuckin' kill all the Italians. Carlisle shoots this plan down fairly quickly - he stayed with the Volturi briefly in the 16th century, but he can vouch for the scope of their ultimate influence and friend squad, and it is, unfortunately, beyond the current capabilities of all of them. They're kind of on a time limit here, and also they think that Edward and Bella are engaged, and that she'll be changed into a vampire once they're married.

Although they were in love at some point, both Bella and Edward have amicably split and are now pursuing healthy relationships with werewolves. They do not want to marry each other, that's for darn sure, but they don't really see any other choice.

Bella does some soul searching and decides that even though she and Edward are no longer together, she still loves the Cullens (and everyone else in BA), and while she's the High Mage now, she's still mortal. Her wishes to become a vampire still haven't changed, but the circumstances surrounding them have. She needs to be a vampire, and she's willing to be, but they don't have a reason to explain her transformation and tie to the Cullens if she and Edward aren't married, and the Volturi will need a super good explanation, otherwise they will know that they were lied to, and the fallout for that will more than likely end in death. Everyone thinks about it really hard, but they're stumped, folks.

Rosalie comes out of left field with a tentative suggestion - what if Bella had a kid that was a Cullen? She's still human so she can have kids, and plenty of people stay together for children. Plus, she really REALLY wants a baby around. Bella is not on board - she was worried about what people would think of her getting married right out of high school, but somehow she can imagine an even harsher judgement from her peers if she has a kid at 18. Plus, she's not even sure she wants to be a mother? She kind of has a lot of stuff going on right now. Also, having a kid that's half vampire sounds like a serious health complication? More research would have to be done on if that's even possible.

Jacob has an even weirder suggestion: what if Bella had a kid with him?

  • He and Edward have been talking and really want to adopt, but it would be better if Bella would be a surrogate for them
  • Werewolves are also immortal, so that's kind of the only way they could have a child that wouldn't grow old and die and leave them heartbroken
  • There are obviously a lot of objections - the Volturi would never buy this! This is the most convoluted sounding plot line of all time! It makes no narrative sense!

It does though! Alice can see it working. Here's what she sees them telling the Italian vampire cops:

Bella and Edward are planning an elaborate wedding, but between the stress of the wedding, her impending demise and rebirth, and her high school graduation, Bella needs an escape. She finds this, logically, in her completely human best friend, who knows absolutely nothing about the supernatural. Except - uh oh! - she gets knocked up! Edward is heartbroken by her betrayal and calls the wedding off, but because he and his family still care about Bella's life (and saving their own skin), they agree to care for her during her pregnancy (should she choose to keep the child - her body, her choice) and still change her into a vamp and honor their promise to the Volturi. This, Alice explains, would account for the fact that there will be no wedding, there will be a baby, and in the end Bella won't be a human so everybody will be happy.

This is a lot for everybody to process.

Bella doesn't see herself as a mom, but she can definitely see herself being a cool aunt. She talks things over with Leah, who totally agrees and supports Bella with whatever she chooses to do. The rest of BA are concerned to varying degrees, but Jessica and Angela agree to smooth over any negative rumors among the local human population, and Jasper - who has a law degree - agrees to draw up all the papers so that the adoption will go over smoothly. Bella gets Charlie on board as well, who would welcome a sort of grandchild on the condition that they wait until after everyone graduates high school. Jacob gets his GED and admits he's been Bella's age the whole time, so everyone is an adult! Huzzah! Nothing weird!

At the beginning of June, Bella and Jacob have a few appointments with Carlisle and a turkey baster, and by the next month, little Jedward is on the way.

In the next nine months, Buffy's Angels decide to start expanding their organization, making things safe for their incoming family. Emily is concerned that they're lacking a diverse member base, so the Cullens start traveling the world to promote the BA and bolster friendships with other supernatural beings. Though they mainly keep in touch via Tumblr and MailChimp, a few folks do come to visit. There are several vampires, a few other magic users, and some selkies who hang out at La Push. There are lots of low stakes hijinks that take place during this time. It is peaceful, and nobody is stressing out or rushing against any sort of deadline. Everyone is together, and their love and friendship grows every day.

Nothing is bad, folks. This part of the book isn't exciting.

Then, mid-March, Bella has the baby! It is a healthy baby girl, who appears perfectly human, but Carlisle does some tests and can verify it has the same magic genes that Jacob does, so she'll probably be more werewolf-y when she's older. Bella happily gives her over to her dads, who are so in love with their new bundle of joy. The 'Jedward' joke was funny, but they decide to name their daughter something original, because only a heartless person would just smush two random names together and pretend like it was a normal thing to name a person. Thus, Hero Black-Cullen is born. (Edward is a big Shakespeare fan, and Jacob thinks it sounds like a fuckin awesome name and he is correct.)

Once she has recovered from childbirth and is feeling good enough to survive the transformation, all the Cullens bite her simultaneously (it's symbolic, okay?) and within a few days, Bella Swan is a vampire! And boy howdy, she's really good at it.

The rest of the story is just about how cool Bella is with her new powers (and her old ones), and everybody they know is pretty sure she's the only vampire who is also a High Mage, so at this point, Buffy's Angels are the most powerful force on the planet. They debate just overthrowing the Italians, but Bella says that overthrowing the government is a plan for another day. She's much more excited to play power games with them for the next century or so.

The Volturi finally pay them a visit and buy their whole schtick just like Alice said they would. They brought their whole entourage with them, probably because they were looking for a fight, but the BA gang was ready and are really good at lying and covering their tracks. There is no epic battle or casualties or reveals. It's actually pretty anticlimactic.


Now that I'm thinking about it, this whole story has been pretty boring, actually. There was no real drama, no tension, no basic story formula. This was just...shitty fan fiction. The main character was totally overpowered, everyone was gay, they were never in danger of losing, there were zero stakes...what have I done.

I cannot believe I'm saying this, but...I think Stephanie Meyer had some valid points. I mean, no, a grown man should NOT have been instantly bonded to a literal newborn baby, but other than that and the weird love triangle, it was a pretty okay plot maybe? I should've just summarized the actual book, huh? This was too happy, and everybody knows Young Adult novels have to be filled with angst and tragedy and overthrowing a Supreme Power and having some tragedy proceeding the victory at the end.

I think the problem is that we've been living in a dystopian YA novel for the past several years, though. Longer than that, really, but that's when it graduated from subtext to text. We've been living in the 2020 that V for Vendetta predicted, which has been depressing and draining, and I, for one, would not have gotten this far without shitty fan fiction. So if you think about it, this was the most valid thing I could've done this week. Election week was one of the worst weeks I've lived through, and yesterday was the first time I have been able to breathe in at least 4 years, and today I wrote shitty Twilight fan fiction. This feels right.

Maybe the real Breaking Dawn was the fascist regime we overthrew along the way. We looked East on the dawn of the 5th day like Gandalf told us to, and there was our savior Gritty with a victory. (Well, not yet, but I have full confidence that the Mary Sue version of Bella I came up with will fly to Georgia for the senate run-off on my birthday and save us all.)

The End

Dearest Darling Andrew pt. 2

Chief Harverd Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski

Dearest Darling Andrew,

How do I tell someone I have a long-standing crush on them?

Forever yours,

Poetically Pining in Pernitas Point

My beloved Pining,

Woe unto you, for you've found yourself in the labyrinthian nightmare where you must decide if the possibility of pursuing a nascent romantic interest is worth the risk of damaging a solid and, more importantly, extant relationship. Without sounding too much like a cop-out, I must first insist that every situation such as yours has its own nuances that make it impossible for me to issue a sweeping resolution for you, so instead, I will first suggest some questions for you to reflect upon.

First, have you any clue if this crush would be reciprocated? Above all, you don't want to blindside an inveterate companion by challenging the very foundation of your companionship. You must remember that a romantic interest isn't necessarily an upgrade from a friendship;' by admitting a crush, you may think you are saying "I think we should add something to our friendship," but the object of your affection may hear "I think we should fundamentally replace our friendship with something else."

Be not disheartened, but reflect on this second question instead: "knowing that my proposal is a risky one, do I think mon objet de l'amour will take the suggestion as seriously as dearest darling Andrew has surmised?" Though I must admit that I tend a bit toward doomspeaking, think not unkindly of me; if you don't think that they'll take your admittance poorly, then speak your heart to them. However...

Question three: predict the conclusion of your confession. A tool I learned in school is to give yourself three potential outcomes. The best case scenario first. Perhaps they, with tears in their eyes, sweep you off your feet and carry you away immediately. Then, the worst: they pull out a gun and shoot you. Ouch. Perhaps we'll go with a slightly less worse case scenario: they are completely unaffected by your crush and stop talking to you.

Now, the middle ground: the outcome between best and worst that seems most likely to you. I cannot dictate for you. My love, I suppose my advice would be this: do not doubt your feelings, but do have a conversation with yourself. Only then should you start penning missives to others.

(Also, if I misread your intent and you only wanted suggestions about a vehicle for your confession, I'd go with rocket pigeon taped to a walkie-talkie)

Dearest Darling Andrew,

I still see the outline and ghostly form of Georgia when I stare at a blank surface. How can I exorcise this demon?

Forever yours,

Peaches and Poltergeists in Panola County

My beloved Peaches,

Courage, love. Georgia didn't exist a few weeks ago and it will be naught but a bizarre cultural memory in a few weeks more.

If you're reading this and thinking, "hey, I'm in Georgia," no, you're not. If you're thinking of sending angry letters to the newsletter because you're from Georgia and want to defend its existence, you don't exist because Georgia isn't real.

Nevada does exist but is inaccessible by land or sea, so you don't really need to waste time thinking about it either.

Dearest Darling Andrew,

Many of the jobs I'm applying to incorporate sales and cold calls. How do I do sell?

Forever yours,

Erstwhile Employment in Escobares

My beloved Erstwhile,

Aha! You hope to stump me by inserting some business trivia into the lineup! I'll have you know, that you, mi corazón, have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. I am one of the brightest business minds of our generation.

The thing you need to understand is that you're not selling a product. You are selling yourself! The product is you! And what sells? Sex! You need to offer to have sex with anyone willing to buy your product.

I went to Harverd.

Dearest Darling Andrew,

I've just made a plate of salad and a fruit fly was buzzing around it so I tried to blow it away but that just blew the fly down into the salad and now I can't find it. What am I meant to do with this debacle of a lunchtime snack?

Forever yours,

Viciously Vandalized Vegetables in Van Vleck

My Beloved Vandalized,

My darling. Light of my life and beat of my heart. I can't tell you how much it hurts me to say this, but your question has me feeling uncharacteristically antagonistic. You must know that I would never want to belittle your suffering, and I hope that this interaction doesn't dampen the affection that we share for each other.

My sweetest love, I don't think that's your salad anymore.

No, no; please don't interrupt me. Listen. I know that you prepared the salad from ingredients that you presumably purchased. I know you, and I know the care and energy that you put into everything you do. I can only imagine what a beautiful Gesamtkunstwerk of the saladic arts you manifested onto your kitchen counter. Unfortunately, the simple truth is that when you completed it, you served it to another.

Before you had even inserted a single unworthy tine of an undeserving fork into the verdurous victory upon your plate, a visitor came forth and politely requested the sustenance you had brought into the world. In its eyes, hovering above was the height of etiquette, and your gentle breath was the invitation it needed to alight.

Instead of voicing your protest or inviting the fruit fly to leave the premises, you instead declared it a vegetable fly and gave it a place on your plate. Surrender. "Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty, and become wind."

Nextdoor Clippings

Chief Neighborhood Watch Correspondent Jenna Hay

In issues 2 and 10, Matt gifted us with Nextdoor Clippings. Today, Nextdoor Clippings is back and is featuring clippings inspired by my very own neighborhood, located in the heart of Dallas.

Renee!!!! - Junius Heights

Hi! Is Renee out there? I live on Augusta and Reiger. I had just strolled outside to walk my two sweet chow chows and found a Starbucks delivery on my doorstep. The name on it is "Renee", but who knows because baristas never get names right, ha! So, it could be a Reggie, too. Are there any Reggie's out there? No idea why anyone would leave coffee here, we are a caffeine-free, carb-free household. Renee, inside the bag is a warm, toasted multigrain bagel and coffee cake just in case you'd like to cross check these items with your Starbucks order. There is also a third item, but I will keep that item's identity secret because I don't want any counterfeit Renee's trying to take your food. Also, I only peeked, I didn't eat any. Not with these hips! Oh, there is also an americano with nonfat milk and sugar free hazelnut syrup, two pumps. There are also two cream cheese packets, I assume for the bagel, which in my opinion is a little overkill but it's your breakfast Renee, not mine ha! I'll put them in my fridge for you, so they don't go bad. Renee, or Reggie, if you see this, please message me. Let me know if you want to come grab your Starbucks and hang out. If I don't hear from you in an hour, the bagel is mine.

Black Cat; Deceased - Augusta St.

If this is your cat, let me know if you want closure before I move it. It is in my driveway. Not my fault.

Inflatables Stolen AGAIN - Lakewood Hills

Listen, I never post on here, but enough is enough. I am a good neighbor. I give to church every week. I do not deserve to have every single one of my Halloween inflatables stolen. That's right. Every. Single. One. I am outraged that vagrant millennials see hip yard décor and think to themselves, "oh, free hand out!" and then take all 27 of my inflatables. When the Snoopy got stolen last week, I thought no big deal, that's fine, he's not my favorite, I will survive (he was a late addition - no offense to Snoopy fans). But then these scum bag thieves had the audacity to return to the scene of the crime and take the rest of my collection, too? If you're the miscreants who stole my inflatables, the nativity scene was given to me by my mother and it's all I have left of her. After my wife left me, these inflatables are the only thing that have brought me joy. I haven't been laid in years. Haven't I suffered enough? Can you please stop stealing my inflatables.

Gunshots? - Junius Heights

Gunshots or is that Jerry's car backfiring again? Sounded like a rifle. Or Jerry's shitty car. Jerry fix your god damn car.

Hello - Worth St. 

This post is unedited and totally real

Alex Reviews: Living in Montana

Chief Bit Correspondent Alex Speed

I moved to Montana in July. I thought it would be a fun bit.

When I was 19 I tried to drive up here despite a very debilitating deadlifting injury (look out ladies its me, an athlete) and could not make it because I was crying too hard to see the road (again look out ladies, a sensitive athlete!)

Since July, Montana has moved from being a distant place I had always wanted to visit and had assumed would be the best place on Earth to being a state that I have lived in, cried in, been severely hungover in, and had very profound and impactful moments at the tops of various mountains in. I can't help but think of an idea from an author I like about the pursuit of something being more fulfilling than the actual achieving of that goal. How there is no flip side to success. You climb the ladder to wherever your dreams are and when you get to the top there isn't a satisfying cloud, there's just no more ladder.

I came here looking for something; I still don't exactly know what. The ability to move on, or to learn, or maybe just to have some weird global pandemic-adjacent adventure. I found small pieces of all of these things, and for that I am very grateful.

I remember being in Texas and feeling nervous about moving across the country to a place I had never been and where I didn't know anyone. I remember really wanting to buy a cowboy hat up there - the there from then being the here from now. I remember thinking it was really important to get a gun in case I got attacked by a bear while I was backpacking. The fear and anticipation and longing made my kind of boring work-from-home day-to-day bearable (its a pun, idiot) because I had this great adventure to look forward to. Something that was larger than life that would satisfy my weird urge to do things that are dumb and extreme and fun.

Montana is all of those things on levels that I previously could not even imagine. Last week I summited a mountain and then yesterday it snowed like a foot and this morning a giant deer sprinted across my backyard because one of my neighbors was trying to shoot it with a bow.

Despite this being the best place on Earth, I have some really bummer days. It was naive of me to think there was a magical place where all my needs would be met and where I wouldn't be sad anymore. Here is where things get interesting though.

In the same way that the longing to move to Montana made my boring Texas life bearable, the desire to work and live through the muddy aspects of my more fixable characteristics makes every day a step towards something that can be just as magical as the idea of Bozeman, Montana.

In conclusion Montana gets 9 evaded bear attacks out of 10

The Basement You Never Knew You Had (Lessons in Room Décor and Upkeep) // Poem // 2016 

Chief Instruction Correspondent Matt Spradling

Open the hatch disguised in the floorboards,

finished walnut stained by the scuffs of your move those months ago

during the heat, when your compass still turned,

that's lain hidden beneath the rug,

every stitch of which has brushed your cheek and maybe a lover's,

though you don't remember buying it, and you don't know where it's from.

Its edges are frayed and the corner's been kicked up.


Dip one foot into the darkness.

You'll expect a chill,

snapping at your painted toes,

but it is quite temperate;

you'll expect something to reach up and grip you,

pulling you

out of control

lower than low

but no,

you must lower yourself.

You are in control.

Does that make it better or worse?

Do you desire better or worse?

Find the ladder, the third rung or the fourth.

Take it in your hands.

Better to leave the ring behind for this part,

lest it snag

or become lost in the dark itself.

You'll find you've already begun your descent.

Keep going until the light overhead,

dim as it was,

is scarcely perceptible,

a specter of the day.

Does it remember you?

Do you want it to?

Find the ground,

step into the basement you never knew you had.

Are you afraid of the dark?

If you're here, that means you aren't.

Should you be?

Don't move.

Take your time.

Soak it in.

Smell the air,

rancid as life,

sterile as death,

older, somehow, than the foundations themselves,

but never stagnant.

Now you're ready to take a step forward.


Go an inch at a time;

there are no walls.

Feel the alien soil beckon or resist,

and know that it was here first.


There will only be silence,

but it shouldn't be ignored.

It always is hard to focus on each sense at once.

Which is the one that you're always forgetting?


with your tongue scarred over because you bite it when you're unsure,

and when was the last time you felt sure?

You don't down here, because,


you're in control,

lifeblood running through your teeth where once there was milk and honey.


That's far enough for now.

Empty your pockets if you have them.

This place keeps all things:

boxes of childhood toys

movie-ticket stubs you couldn't quite bear to dispose of

a stone from the pond where you took your first crush,

whose face is long-faded but whose name won't degrade

a reminder that you weren't always an only child

blue ribbons, red, the thumbtacks that held them

the taste of their mouth, the feel of their nose,

each drop of sweat that soaked into their car seats

the sound of your dog that never stopped licking,

and the silence she left in her wake

summer insects that lulled you to sleep

when the stars were young.

Dig deep, be thorough.

Or don't.

This place can hold these things,

if you can give them over.

Feel that you tarry in a place of consequence.

Has the climb down left you weary?

And in your hand still

are the summer insects that lulled you to sleep

when the stars and your heart were young.

Feel gravity shift,

feel your bones flood with air,

float out of this ancient well,

where black rivers run into a still and godless ocean,

where ripples are separated upon empty shores,

never to reform.

Return to the room

where the walls bear illogical patterns

and which still carries your scent.

Close the hatch,

though you'll never forget its presence,

and pull the rug back into place,

though faded threads pull loose in your fingers.

Perhaps it is time to find a new rug.

Or do you like it torn?

Office Chart

Spotify Playlist: Issues 30+

Nazi Punks Fuck Off - Dead Kennedys


Running Away (Live at Madison Square Garden) - Vulfpeck

Vulfpeck put out a new album this week. Even though they are some of the most genius music marketers of our generation (Jack Stratton is a superhuman seriously look into it) they thought it was a good idea to put out a new album during election week? A weird power play, but I respect it. This song was written by sometimes Vulfpeck member Joey Dosik and it is striking. It feels like walking around late at night because you can't sleep. If you close your eyes and listen you can feel the stale light from a streetlamp keeping watch on you as you anxiously pace around the sidewalk.  -Alex

La Vie En Rose - Louis Armstrong 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't learning this on my clarinet. I love the simplicity, I love the brevity, I love the trumpet, I love Louis. I'm v sleepy and drunk as i write this.  -Jenna

Mirror Mirror - Kelly Price

Kelly Price has absolutely no right to go as hard as she does on this song, which she also wrote and produced herself. The instrumental alone sounds like it should be the background music to the most dramatic scene of the heartbreaking romantic Oscar winner of my dreams, but her voice soars above it in a way that even the most awkward and heterosexual teenage boy will be transported into a world where he's a gorgeous but taken-for-granted woman who's invisible to the only man she cares about.  -Andrew

What's Up? - 4 Non Blondes

I want to scream this song from a roof right now. No, I will not elaborate.  -Marina

Kyoto (Copycat Killer Version) - Phoebe Bridgers, Rob Moose

Hey, Phoebe? Just come to my apartment and punch me directly in the face next time. Thanks.  -Sam

Four Out Of Five - Arctic Monkeys

I've been dreaming about aliens a lot lately.  -Matt

L.A. Freeway - Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff died pretty recently and it was a huge bummer. I went out to Yellowstone the weekend he died and rolled the windows down so the trees could take a listen to this great Texas songwriter. I was also almost eaten by a bear that day. I showed it to Jenna and she said it was recorded in a time before people cared what kind of DAW you use and I think that's spot on. This song was recorded when you could just write a huge dumb song and it could just be amazing because of the feeling it gave you. That's a social kind of songwriting that Jerry Jeff Walker mastered.  -Alex

Silhouettes - Sleeping At Last 

Alex described this song as sad and pretty, which is exactly why I like it. The lyrics are sad, about repressed memories and how to manage them when they reappear. Amongst other things. I just love this artist.  -Jenna

I Know It's Today - Leah Greenhaus, Marissa O'Donnell, and Sutton Foster - Shrek the Musical

"There's a Shrek musical? Sutton Foster is in it? Who asked for this?" I did. I asked for every bit of that. And this song, where we see Fiona growing through the years, trapped in her tower, is the embodiment of why everyone should have asked for every bit of that. The two younger versions of Fiona maintain their optimism as they lead into the finale, led by stage veteran Sutton Foster: a three part harmony where they confidently refuse to surrender hope.  -Andrew

Compared To What - Roberta Flack

I love this song because it's soul/jazz and also a political commentary about LBJ. It still resonates today, and also you can feel like a groovy dude while listening to it. Win-win.  -Marina

I'll Be Holding - Miel

Did y'all know mielmonster from Vine makes music now? I didn't and it was a mistake on my part. This is one of those songs that I heard and both immediately fell in love with and felt like I had been listening to it for years. Also, is this song about Austin? I know other cities have 6th Streets but I'm gonna pretend they don't.  -Sam